Pump Shotguns

Pump Shotgun
Where "side by side" or "over/under" refer to the configuration of the barrels, "pump" or "auto-loading" refer to the action of a repeating shotgun. In a pump-action shotgun, the shooter loads a shell into the chamber by sliding the gun's forearm grip sharply backwards and then forwards again. That movement ejects the just-shot empty shell, draws a new shell from the tubular magazine under the barrel, and seats it in the chamber, ready to be fired.

That action is just like an auto-loader, but because it requires a very deliberate, positive manual movement by the shooter, many people consider the pump to be somewhat safer, especially in a field setting. But any repeating shotgun that draws live shells from a magazine requires special caution, and a true sense of the body language that will tell other shooters when the gun is safe. With a breach-loading gun, like an over/under or side-by-side, another person can tell - from a hundred yards away - when someone's shotgun is in a safe condition (breached). Pumps and autoloaders look just as loaded (or unloaded) at any distance that doesn't let you see the condition of the receiver. It's for this reason that only breaching guns are used in formal events like hunt tests and field trials.

On a repeating shotgun the meachanism that ejects and reloads the chamber must work reliably. Many fans of the pump shotgun will tell you that their main attraction to that format is the reliability. Unlike, say, a gas-operated autoloader, there's little question of whether a pump will work reliably, even with no cleaning after hundreds of rounds in near-zero tempuratures. But the noisier, slower action is a tough sell to people who've grown accustomed to a fine autoloader's speed, and no repeating gun will ever do for those that love a double gun.


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